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How to spot a counterfeit
The Secret Service offers these tips for spotting counterfeit currency:
Take a moment to look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Things to look for:
• Portrait: The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.
• Federal Reserve and Treasury seals: On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt or broken saw-tooth points.
• Border: The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On a counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.
• Serial numbers: Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
• Paper: Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often, counterfeiters simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper, which is noticeable on close inspection. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of U.S. currency.
You can find more information at the Secret Service Counterfeit Division Web site.
Source: U.S. Secret Service